An extra large pot

I am a firm believer in the power of soup.

A good soup, I am thoroughly convinced, can fix a lot of things. And in the past few weeks, I've heard of quite a few people in need of help.

For starters, there's Alex. We spent yesterday in the emergency room at Cape Cod hospital. Everything is fine—he just got boarded at his Sunday morning hockey game is all—and they thought he might have broken his clavicle, or maybe a few ribs. But he didn't, and although it hurts when he breathes deeply and his arm is in a sling and he is acting just the slightest bit loopy from all the vicodin, in the big scheme of things, he is a-okay. Groovy, really, compared to what could have been.

There's also the issue of my father. Last week, he broke his nose playing basketball. (Clearly, we need to do something about these mens leagues!) My mother took him to the doctor, who told him he would have to wait a week for the swelling to go down, and then, once he was starting to feel a little better, they would have to break his nose all over again. They recommended he go under general anesthesia for all this, but he courageously declared that if women can endure childbirth, than surely he could do this. (Go PAPA!)

There have been other people we know, too, weathering more difficult things. There's my mother's friend who just had a (successful! curing!) double mastectomy, and Alex's aunt who just survived open-heart surgery. But of course, none of these really compare to the main event going on down in Haiti. Figuring out how to respond to a crisis like that is going to take a lot more than soup.

There is so much to do in Haiti that it's hard to know where to start. People injured in the earthquake need medical help, of course, and food and water most urgently. Children need to be reunited with their families and parents need help searching for aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and grandparents. Even more overwhelmingly, in the long term, a whole society needs to be rebuilt. This will take money and materials and laborers, and it will also take time. Internationally, everyone will contribute what they can, and eventually we will get the job done.

But in the meantime, it's hard to know what to do. Nothing heals overnight—not a country of survivors, or a broken nose, or an opened-up heart. I'm not much good at flowers, or get-well balloons, or even always cards, but I can always make soup. I made a batch this weekend—sautéed onions and carrots and mushrooms and sausage with a rich red wine and beef broth and thick blooms of kale and red kidney beans and farro hanging about. I brought some over to Alex's aunt, and I sent the recipe to my mom to make for my dad, and I heated Alex up a bowl when we got home from the hospital last night. If I could send an extra large pot down to Haiti, I would.

It isn't much, I know, but it's what I know how to do, and it comes with the best of hopeful thoughts in mind.

with sausage, dinosaur kale, and kidney beans

The thing I like about this soup is that it is both delicious and truly good for you. There isn't an unhealthy bone in its build—unless you count the sausage, which I don't so long as it comes from a pastured, anti-biotics-free pig. The only unusual ingredient is the farro, an ancient variety of wheat also known as emmer. We discovered it through the grain CSA we joined this year (thanks to Andrea! more on that soon!), but it is also fairly readily available at health food stores. If you can't find it locally, barley would make a fine substitute. Also, we used ground pork sausage for the meat, because that was all we had, but I have a feeling if you had something more Italian sausage or kielbasa-like, it would make an excellent replacement. Oh! and one more thing: for the mushrooms, we used dried and then rehydrated shiitakes from Julie Winslow, but any other dried mushroom with the same depth of flavor and heft, like a porcini or an oyster, would be fine.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow storage onions, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rosemary, fresh or dried
1/2 pound pork sausage
1/2 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth, preferably homemade
6 ounces uncooked farro, rinsed and soaked overnight
1/2 pound kale, coarsely chopped
optional, but good: some sort of cheese for topping (grated Parmesan, feta, chevre, etc.)

Heat up the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Sauté the onions over medium-high heat for about five minutes on their own, then turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots, the garlic, and the rosemary. When the vegetables have taken up most of the oil and the onions are translucent, add the sausage. Wait a minute or so until it starts to brown, then add the mushrooms and salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another three minutes or so, until the mushrooms soften and the sausage is cooked through.

Add the crushed tomatoes, the red wine, the beef broth, and the farro, cover the pot, and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and continue cooking, stirring and tasting occasionally, until the farro is almost tender, about 45 minutes. At this point, add the kale, and season the soup again with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Simmer the soup, still covered, for another 15 minutes or so, or until the farro is soft and chewy. Serve the soup hot, and if you decide to go for the cheese, sprinkle it on top.


Anna said...

Mmmmm, this looks delicious. I made pot-roast (with local grass-fed meat from just an hour away!!!!) this weekend and it really hit the spot. I've also been looking for an udon noodle soup recipe...do you have any recommendations? I've had a craving for it ever since we made pho over break (which I HIGHLY recommend you do ASAP)!

Bie said...

Sounds good. When you come to see me in few weeks please bring some farro.THat is new to me. bieepee

Marian said...

This comment doesn't belong here, it belongs with your blueberry-bran muffins/good book column in the Times record Yesterday, so you can delete after reading...ANYWAY, i have to say two things: 1) I really enjoy your column, and I'm aching to try your muffins. And 2) I reacted the same way to Stieg Larsson's books. I was on vacation the day I read the first one and I spent literally all day on the couch, covered by a comforter, reading. I could not tear myself away. The second one I did in a few late night sittings. And here's the kicker: One of the staff at Curtis just brought the third one back from England, so I'm in the middle of that one now! Tell your mom to get on the reserve list for it (Girl who kicked the hornet's nest) and borrow it for you. It may be a while - there are only 2 copies in the system currently. It is scheduled to be released in the US in May.
Gotta go make some muffins for my read-a-thon....

Elspeth said...

Marian, I know! Those books are out-of-control good. It is impossible to stop reading once you start.

And I am very, very jealous that you've gotten your hands on the new one! My radio producer has it but says he is saving it for a rainy day so of course I can't ask to borrow it which is k-i-l-l-i-n-g me.

You will have to tell us if it is as good as the first two!

All the best,

Diane said...

Now that I am officially on vacation for a week, I'm back to reading your blog, which is a very dangerous thing because I want to make everything in it. I'll be trying the soup - maybe tomorrow. Let you know how it turns out. There was a salad in there that looks yummy, too, and the creamy balsamic dressing I must try also.

Elspeth said...


Vacations are good. If I only had a week and I had to prioritize, I would start with the creamy balsamic. The hardest part is finding the glaze; after that it will take you all of five seconds and if you become as addicted as we are you will make it for lunch every single day!

I would also like to put in a word for the pickled beet deviled eggs, especially if you are having any sort of party, because they are absolutely beautiful on a white platter.

Have fun, and happy break!

All the best,

Anonymous said...

I would always be thankful to a Medical Dr Williams Mckane, who gave me a new life financially as he bought one of my kidneys for his patient in his hospital and since then over 5months now i and my family have not known poverty again.
i came across his advert on internet via one LOPEZ from PERU who he bought her kidney was every where sharing her nice information and i saw his email contact as mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com
and i did the needful and followed all the rules and regulations, i got half of the kidney money as approved by National Kidney Foundation ever before the transplant took place. I am using this medium to tell any one out there with financial challenges to take a bold step and contact this wonderful doctor on mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com your life would never remain the same i bet you.

Fatima Roland said...

I can't keep this huge success to myself all alone.
i stumbled into an ads / thread on the internet about kidney donation and the benefit accrued to it. To be specific
for money exchange and i took interest in it and emailed the address i saw in it which Dr Williams controls and the email is mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com in less than one hour i got a reply from him and we started bargaining to a conclusion i did all i was asked to do and submitted all i was asked to submit and to my greatest surprise i got an upfront payment from the hospital and a date was fixed by me for operation which was carried out in New Delhi and balance was paid to me in cash. Do not waste time working endlessly and borrowing money to solve that financial problems of yours not knowing when to pay back. Ask Dr WILLIAMS if he needs your kidney and this is the address to reach him mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com You would thank me later. Kara from India.Yours Sincerely

Benson said...

Wow, what a wonderful time i am having with a new lief of

life seeing myself suddenly and stickily rice after

donating my left side beans kidney to a medical doctor i

coincidentally met on the Internet where Mr. Rufus displayed

his email address as mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com

and he narrated how his kidney was taken for exchange for

money by Dr.Mckane and i gave it a trial with a doubtful mind

because i never believed it. Lo and behold i was surprised

when i met all the requirements spelt out, i was given half

of the agreed price before the transplantation took place in

my country home, in Ottawa Canada. And after the operation i

still live like i used to live when i was having two beans

kidneys, it has no harm and never hurt for a minute, are you

poor? your business is folded up? you want to go back to

school? you are tired of borrowing? please i am a testimony

to this, meet doctor mckane for your help in life. The below

email address is all you need to contact him and you would

testify later to the rest of the world like i am just doing


Benson Jude, from Ottawa Canada

Michael said...

This is a true life story about me and Dr.William Mckane, who i gave one of my kidneys to for money and he paid me some good amount of money few days before the transplant took place, i read about how Doctor Mckane compensated someone heavily by giving his kidney by one Mike Steve who said any one who is interested should give it a trial and come back to testify, i copied the email as mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com and emailed him in less than a three hours i got a reply from Doctor and we bargained and i took a bold step taking all the necessary agreements, in another few days i got paid as agreed by the both of us and a date were taken for operation, he came to my country and operated on me without any issues and i got my balance money, i am now financially settle and firm, please do not hesitate in contacting Doctor for a help on mckanekidneytransplantcenter@gmail.com My financial problem is over in life.
Michael James, from Malaysia


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.